Paul La Farge's Luminous Airplanes
is itself a luminous book, an exquisitely polished small world of characters and emotions that captures a generation's coming of age through the perspective of one young man. La Farge's first-person narrator is a literary seeing eye whose name we never learn, but he belongs to the generation sometimes called Gen X, and his growing up occurs side-by-side with vertiginous changes in American culture. As a kid, the narrator learns to program in BASIC on one of the first home computers; as a young man, he finds a way to make his living in the world as a "content manager" - a line of work that seems strangely absurd and empty of content (even though the pay is good until the Silicon Valley bubble pops).
This technological evolution, along with the narrator's other struggles with family and romantic identity, read as true-to-life and...
Beyond the Book
According to an article in Time Out Chicago
(August 2011), "Paul La Farge might be the greatest American writer you haven't read, but now there's no excuse." He has been constructing a solid home for himself in American letters since his first published novel in 1999.
With a flavor of European modernism, The Artist of the Missing
(1999) is a story about a young artist searching for his parents in a bewildering urban landscape. It was awarded a California Book Award for the best first novel of 1999. La Farge describes how he wrote his first draft of the story over the course of 21 days,...